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In Mexico, a country full of color, tradition and flavor, the Day of the Dead stands out as especially colorful, traditional and flavorful. Rooted in Pre-Hispanic practice and caught up in the trick-or-treat influence of Halloween, the holiday is a chance to honor deceased relatives with an altar in the home, dress up as an elegant skeleton, and sample the best of Mexico’s artesanal candy.
The Day of the Dead takes place on November 2, but it’s celebrated several days or even several weeks before, especially when there’s a long weekend like this year. While it’s one of the most public holidays in Mexico, in many ways it’s also the most personal. Besides costumes and outdoor events (more on those below), perhaps the most interesting part of the holiday is that people visit the cemetery where their loved ones are buried.
They clean it up, adorn it with flowers, and even may spend…
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On September 16, 1810, the Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang the bells of his church in Dolores, Guanajuato. A crowd of locals gathered around him on the front steps, and Hidalgo gave a passionate speech about the need for an independent Mexico, though today the exact words aren’t known.
Today, there are fiestas everywhere in Mexico to commemorate this symbolic beginning of the Mexican War of Independence against Spain. The end of the war finally came 11 long years later in 1821.
Hidalgo’s grito (cry, shout) is reenacted throughout Mexico on September 15, the night before the holiday, usually at 11 p.m. The most important available government official rings the bell that hangs from the front of the government palace in nearly every city and town. People fill the zocalo, the center square fronted by government buildings and the cathedral. They dance to live music, waiting for…
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So many things I wish I knew before I moved to Mexico six years ago: residency requirements, getting a job, finding an apartment, dealing with authorities, traveling around the country, and learning Spanish.
All those and more are in my new article What You Need to Know to Live in Mexico: Insider Tips, which I’m proud to say was chosen by Transitions Abroad as the 1st-place winner of their 2016 Expatriate Writing Contest.
Here are some tips from the article:
- Most visitors can stay as a tourist for six months. If you don’t plan on working (or getting the visa for permission to work), leave the country when the six months are finished and then simply come back for another six months.
- To find a job, ask for a job interview in person by visiting the company, not by email.
- Bring originals of all official documents, like your birth certificate and university transcripts, and get them officially certified with an apostille.
- Be polite and calm with authorities at all costs. Never show impatience or anger, or you will get nowhere.
- Don’t take first-class, long-distance buses in Mexico. Domestic flights are usually cheaper and obviously much faster.
- You don’t need to go to a school to learn Spanish, but can do it yourself with a 20-minute daily commitment. Some ideas: Learn grammar from a book, practice reading with the newspaper, practice listening with songs on YouTube, and practice speaking with a language exchange.
For more advice, details on those above, and lots of online resources, please read the article on Transitions Abroad. And thanks for visiting my blog.